It’s a strange sign of our troubled economic times when we see good news in reports that school budgets won’t be cut as much as we feared. That’s pretty much the story for early ed according to Pre-K Now’s newly released report on the nation’s governors’ proposed pre-k budgets for FY2011.
Leadership Matters finds that, if the nation’s governors get what they ask for, overall state pre-k dollars would remain fairly steady at about $5.3 billion nationally, representing a barely registering 0.2 percent rate of growth. The amount can vary a lot by state. Alabama, for example, is poised to increase pre-k funds by 38 precent — the highest rate of increase in the country. In contrast, Arizona’s pre-k budget is looking at a 100 percent wipe out if the state eliminates its early childhood block grant program as the governor has asked. But by and large, states will be dedicating close to what they have been towards educating their little ones (see state table below).
The Center has written a lot about the short- and long-term benefits of good pre-k programs. Investing dollars early on will ultimately save states and communities in the long run. So while flat funding may be the new up, as one of our Kansas colleagues so aptly quipped, we seriously hope to see more forward-looking early ed budgets in the near future. — Patte Barth